Don’t Let Bugs Take a Bite Out of Summer

Enjoying summertime picnics, backyard barbeques, camping and days at the pool with family and friends means we’re outside more and exposed to nature’s tiniest creatures – bugs. Dr. Matt Cline, an Emergency Medicine physician at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center, shared simple tips we can use to help prevent common insect bites and avoid the unwanted stings of summer.
 
Dr. Cline said that the best way to prevent bites is by using a high-quality bug spray. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered DEET insect repellents that are proven safe and effective. There are also several natural, chemical-free varieties available. Other ways to ward off bites and stings from bees, hornets, wasps, mosquitoes and ticks are to:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to spot ticks, and bugs are less attracted to muted colors.
  • Use a fan outdoors. It’s difficult for mosquitoes and other bugs to fly against the breeze.
  • Identify and remove bee, wasp and hornet nests carefully. Treat with a long distance spray at night when the insects are asleep.
  • Keep food and beverages covered. Sweet foods and sugary drinks (like soda and juice) can especially attract insects.
  • Keep lids secured on trashcans.
  • Stay calm and still if an insect is flying around, as swatting may cause it to sting.
  • Keep Benadryl handy in case you have an allergic reaction. 

Dr. Cline explained that most bug bites do not require a trip to the emergency department and can be cared for at home. A local reaction is common and usually is identified by a small area of redness that can be accompanied by itching. He recommends taking an antihistamine or Benadryl as the first line of defense but points out that simply giving this type of reaction time to heal on its’ own is just as important.

Dr. Cline also notes that severe allergic reactions are less common, but it is crucial to know the symptoms. These can include difficulty breathing, light-headedness, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of consciousness. Dr. Cline clarifies that a severe allergic reaction’s symptoms will continue to progress over time.
 
“If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, you need to seek emergency medical treatment immediately,” he said.
 
Individuals who know they have a severe insect-allergy should always carry an auto-injectable epinephrine and make sure friends and family know how to use it properly.

For pesky tick bites, Dr. Cline said that early identification is key. If you are in the woods or a field, be sure to check yourself immediately afterward because it takes ticks about 24 to 48 hours to attach to the body. If you spot a tick, use tweezers to grab the tick as close as possible at its head. Never use gasoline, bleach or a flame. After removal, clean the area with soap and water. If you get a red rash around the bite or experience fever, chills or joint aches, this may signal infection and you need to seek immediate medical care.
 
Please keep Dr. Cline’s tips in mind when you’re outdoors this summer. While we can’t always avoid bug bites and stings, taking these small steps can help reduce your chance of unwelcome insect encounters.

Davie Medical Center provides Emergency Department services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Bermuda Run, NC. You can expect to receive convenient, high-quality care for adults and children with injuries and sudden illnesses, as well as minimal wait times.